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Helena Bonham Carter,
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A man runs into a woman at a wedding. They start to flirt and talk and find that they get along. Throughout their discussion, the man talks about certain memories as if they were common to the two of them. We gradually learn that there may have been a previous connection between these two when they were younger. This just leaves more questions as their past is slowly revealed. Written by
An Emotional One-Night Stand Made Uniquely Resonant by a Split Screen and Carter's Superb Work
There are so many conventional movies about adulterous chance meetings that the prospects of another one wouldn't seem to be too promising. However, director Hans Canosa takes a rather novel approach with this small-scale 2006 indie film in looking at the illicit one-night stand with a pervasive split-screen process. Most often, the two sides reflect the perspectives from the man and woman at the center of the story, and at other times, we see their individual memories as flashbacks to their youthful courtship. Initially, the gimmicky aspect of watching the duality of the action is rather jarring, but it gradually becomes a dramatically effective means for exhibiting the dynamics of the two characters in real time. Gabrielle Zevin's sharply delineated, often amusing dialogue also helps to bring an immediacy to what could have been a predictably drawn situation.
The intimate, verbose plot itself turns on several contrivances, some more forgivable than others (like the absence of names for the lovers and the misunderstanding arising from matching cell phones). Regardless, it's really the adroit charm and emotional dexterity of the actors that sets this movie apart. Playing yet another rascally man-child, Aaron Eckhart adds shades of mid-life romantic vulnerability that make his character likeably flawed. But the picture really belongs to Helena Bonham Carter's richly textured performance as the woman, easily her best work since 1997's "The Wings of the Dove". As a complacent married woman who feels herself hurtling palpably toward forty, she provides such revealing nuance with each scene that I ended up wondering more about her character's fate than his. With her sad dark eyes and pouty mouth, she looks more like legendary French actress Jeanne Moreau as the years pass.
Shot in only thirteen days and with a running time of only 84 minutes, the movie is quite small in scope, but it is also a relatively undiscovered gem that will hopefully take on new life on DVD. Speaking of which, the 2007 DVD has a surprisingly robust number of extras beginning with Canosa's thoughtful commentary track. Also included are an entertaining 25-minute interview with an easily bantering Eckhart and Carter from the Telluride Film Festival; an insightful five-minute short with the director showing a demo of his dual-camera film-making technique; a helpful four-minute explanation of why split-screen was used specifically for the film; and a less interesting, more technical twenty-minute demonstration of how Canosa used Apple Final Cut Pro software to make his complex edits.
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